Sunday, October 25, 2015

Inflammation 101

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

When I enter the words “anti-inflammatory diets” in, which is by far my most favorite website in the whole wide World (I hope Mr. Jeff Bezos is reading this blog so that I can get a free bike this Christmas), the site spits out 1,408 results, mostly books.

Hmm…this makes me wonder, is inflammation that evil? Do we need to quench it with nutritional therapies and interventions? Will Mr. Jeff Bezos let me choose the color of my bike?

Well, like everything in life, health is indeed about being in a state of equilibrium or balance. When in control, inflammation is a normal and healthy response of our immune system. The classic signs of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, and, of course, pain. So when you cut yourself (ouch!) peeling the carrots for the rosemary pork roast (yum!) and later on you notice that your cut is visibly red and painfully swollen, you need to thank your busy immune cells for mounting an inflammatory reaction so that your skin can heal properly and effectively. This is normal and expected. This is your body’s protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation.

The problem arises when inflammation is out of whack, out of control. In chronic inflammation, the immune cells are constantly reactive and ultimately begin to attack our body cells. That is correct. For reasons we do not fully understand yet, the immune cells begin to view our own body cells as antigens, pathogens, and invaders! As a result, our immune cells destroy our own precious cells. Symptoms of chronic inflammation include fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, and muscle stiffness. Chronic inflammation, which is indeed a long term inflammatory response as opposed to acute inflammation, can potentially lead to certain diseases and conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, and type 1 diabetes, among others.

In my upcoming blog, I will be sharing with you some features of an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Stay tuned.


Nicole Heim said...

I have been taking turmeric three times a day since July and I feel so much better! My arthritic finger only hurts when I get busy and forget to take it for a day. It is my 'gauge' of the inflammation in my body. That, along with a paleo diet to keep my GERD in check, has made such a difference...

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness said...

Thank you for posting, Nicole. I am glad that you are feeling better with your inflammatory condition. I had GERD several years ago. I noticed that when I reduced my dinner volume/amount, GERD slowly disappeared and now I am GERD-free! When we lay in bed, we assist the acidic contents of the stomach to come up and burn the lining of the esophagus. If we have a big meal to digest, the acidic load will be bigger as well. So I eat small amounts of food for dinner. :-)

Unknown said...

I am really looking forward to learning more about this. I have been on a paleo diet for the last couple years which has helped tremendously but I am always looking for more tips to reduce inflammation. Gina

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness said...

Hello Gina, please check out my subsequent blog, "Anti-inflammatory guidelines" at

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